Access and Provenance

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing




A Finding Aid to the

Jane Evans Papers 

Manuscript Collection No. 745

1921-2001. .8 Linear ft.


The Jane Evans Papers were donated to the American Jewish Archives by the Union for Reform Judaism in June 2004. Literary rights to materials authored by Ms. Evans are held by the Evans heirs. Literary rights to materials authored by others are held by the individual author or his/her heirs. Questions concerning rights should be addressed to the Director of the American Jewish Archives.

The papers are open to all users and available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives 


Jane Evans was born in New York City on October 31, 1907, the only child of James Evans and Maybelle Holden Evans. Educated at New York University, the University of Cincinnati, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Xavier University, she lived for a number of years in the Midwest. It was while she lived in St. Louis and was employed by W&J Sloan that she was approached by Joseph Newman of Emerson Electric Manufacturing Company about the design of the table fan. This led to her eventual invention of the “Silver Swan” fan. The “Silver Swan” is recognized by American collectors as the fan that changed fan design forever!

Choosing never to marry, Evans’ involvement in academic, intellectual, and Jewish secular and religious life kept her absorbed and fulfilled. During the San Francisco Conference at which the United Nations Charter was drafted, she served as a consultant to the American delegation. She was President of the National Peace Conference, Chair of the American Jewish Conference’s Committee on Displaced Persons, President of the Jewish Braille Institute, Life Honorary Officer of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, President of the Jewish Peace Fellowship, and served on the board of the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors. Her best known affiliation was as Executive Director of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, which position she held from 1933-1976. In addition, Evans taught political science at the New School for Social Research in New York. She was recognized as a leading authority on community organization and international affairs.

Among her awards bestowed are a citation as a “Woman of Achievement” by the Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations, the Frank L. Weil Award of the National Jewish Welfare Board, being named “A Woman of Distinction in Religion” by Governor Mario Cuomo of New York, a forest of trees in Israel planted in her honor, and the Jane Evans Garden of Peace and Understanding at the Leo Baeck High School in Haifa, Israel. An avid sports fan, boating enthusiast, art collector and animal lover, Miss Evans remained actively involved in all her pursuits well into her 90's.

Jane Evans passed away, after a year of illness, on March 24, 2004, at the age of 96.


The Jane Evans Papers might best be described as an amalgamation, since the collection is made up of the papers found in her office at the time of her death. The National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (NFTS) folders in Box 1 consist of transcripts, reports, speeches, adult education materials, resolutions, and two letters. Her writings (mostly speeches)take up two folders and are largely devoted to the topics of the day, but show that she was also capable of delivering sermons, invocations, and prayers. A lengthy interview, the transcript running to 117 pages, occupies another folder, and personal papers, which include a few brief biographies, a newsletter article about a library named in her honor, and a letter from a fan collector, another. A folder of photographs completes Box 1.

Box 2 contains folders about the Dedication of The House of Living Judaism, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the World Union for Progressive Judaism, and an eclectic selection of the writings of others, called Miscellaneous Nearprint. The folder entitled Women and Judaism contains speeches, resolutions, and correspondence regarding a subject this “Woman of Achievement” knew well. For those who would like to know more about Jane Evans’ work at the NFTS, the finding aid to the Women of Reform Judaism Records (Manuscript Collection No. 73), should be consulted.


Box	Folder	Contents

1	1	National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods.  1939-1977.
	2	National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods.  n.d.
	3	Writings by Jane Evans.  1948-2000.
	4	Writings by Jane Evans.  n.d.
	5	Interview of Jane Evans by Allen Kaplan.  August 21, 1985.
	6	Personal.
	7	Photographs.

2	1	House of Living Judaism, Dedication of.  October 26-28, 1951.
	2	Union of American Hebrew Congregations/Union for Reform Judaism. 1921-2001.
	3	Women and Judaism.  1971-1994.
	4	World Union for Progressive Judaism.  1963-2000.
	5	Miscellaneous Nearprint.
	6	Miscellaneous Nearprint.
Copyright © 2007 Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives